Thursday, June 30, 2016

#21 Joe Collins - New York Yankees

Joseph Edward Collins
New York Yankees
First Base

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Left  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  185
Born:  December 3, 1922, Scranton, PA
Signed:  Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1939
Major League Teams:  New York Yankees 1948-1957
Died:  August 30, 1989, Union, NJ (age 66)

Joe Collins played in parts of 10 seasons with the Yankees, serving as their starting first baseman between 1951 and 1954 and winning five World Championships with the club.  He hit four key World Series home runs, including a pair in Game One of the 1955 World Series to give the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Dodgers.  Wearing #15 during his formidable years with the Bronx Bombers, Collins appeared in 908 career games and had a .256 lifetime average.  He finished his career with 86 home runs and 329 RBIs.

Building the Set
January 10, 1999 in Raleigh, NC - Card #175
I indicate clearly in my notes that this card (along with two others) was purchased at the Raleigh Sports Card & NASCAR Collectibles Show, not to be confused with the more benign Raleigh Sports Card & Memorabilia Show.  In any event, the card set me back only $6, which is an absolute bargain considered the card is in pristine shape and it's a card from the highly coveted Yankees team set.

I don't miss my time living in Raleigh, but I do miss these semi-regular baseball card shows which were held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

The Card
What's happening in the action photo?  My best guess is that Collins is bending over to stop an errant pick-off throw and the runner has scampered back, balancing himself on the corner of the bag.  The portrait of Collins was used on his 1955 Topps card, but not his 1954 Topps card.

On the back of the card, the 14 seasons referenced also include his time playing in the Yankees minor league system.  There's also mention of his two home runs in Game One of the 1955 World Series, perhaps his most memorable feat on the diamond.

1956 Season
By 1956, Collins had lost the every day job as the Yankees starting first baseman to Moose Skowron (#61).  Platooning with Skowron, and starting most games in which the opponent started a right-handed pitcher, Collins still appeared in 100 games that season, hitting just .225.  In the 1956 World Series, Collins hit .238 (5 for 21) with two RBIs.

Phillies Connection
After his 10th season with the Yankees, at the age of 35, Collins was sold to the Phillies.  With Ed Bouchee suspended for the duration of the season, the Phils were in need of a regular first baseman and their hope was that Collins would fill the void.  Rather than report to the Phillies for the 1958 season, Collins announced his retirement, and it was reported by the New York media that he declared, "I want to be remembered as a Yankee."  Collins forfeited a $100,000 salary by declining to report to the Phillies.

1952 Bowman #181
1952 Topps #202
1957 Topps #295
2002 Topps Chrome
1952 Reprints #52R18
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1952 Bowman #181
First Topps Card:  1952 Topps #202
Last Topps Card:  1957 Topps #295
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2002 Topps Chrome 1952 Reprints #52R18

40 - Collins non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 6/29/16

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

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